When the Police Lie to Obtain a Search Warrant

Recently, I have been asked about what to do when a defendant thinks the police lied to obtain a search warrant. There is a recent case that covers this issue, People of the State of Michigan v. Marcus Dwane Manning. The case discusses when a trial court is obligated to conduct a Franks hearing. A Franks hearing is a court proceeding wherein the court is asked to determine if the police officer lied in obtaining a search warrant.
In Manning, Defendant was convicted of two counts of transporting a female for prostitution and possession of marijuana. Defendant filed a motion for a Franks evidentiary hearing. A Franks hearing is used to determine if the police obtained incriminating evidence through false statements by a police officer. The Court provides some guidance regarding Franks hearings: “A trial court is obligated to conduct a Franks hearing only if the defendant makes a preliminary showing that (1) the affiant knowingly and intentionally, or with reckless disregard for the truth, included a false statement in the warrant affidavit and (2) that the allegedly false statement was necessary to a finding of probable cause.” Defendant claims the search in this case was based on false information.
Specifically, Defendant argues the search warrant falsely stated “Marcellus Manning,” not “Marcus Manning,” rented a room at a hotel for purposes of prostitution. Second, defendant argues the affidavit for search warrant included a photo of the prostitute, and since the photo was not brought before the prostitute’s family for recognition there was grounds for a Franks hearing. Defendant alleges that once all supposed tainted allegations in the affidavit are removed, the remaining allegations are insufficient to support a finding of probable cause to search the hotel room. Accordingly, the resulting search was invalid.
The appeals court upheld both the trial court’s decision to deny defendant’s motion to suppress and the trial court’s decision to deny defendant’s request for a Franks hearing. The trial court’s response to defendant’s first argument was even though the first name on the search warrant was incorrect; there was still enough probable cause. This would be true without any version of defendant’s name, because there was ample evidence that a crime was occurring in a room rented by a man with the last name of Manning. Secondly, the trial court concluded that defendant did not present any authority requiring the police to have a family member identify a photograph in order to confirm the identity of the person in the photograph. Overall, defendant failed to show that the police acted in anything other than “good faith” with regards to gathering information pursuant to a warrant. As a result, a Franks Hearing was not granted.
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